A children’s book titled “Baseball is …” sat on a table in the Reds clubhouse and in front of many of the lockers.
The book celebrates the game, its joys and its history, but the players would have filled in that sentence in plenty of ways not suitable for children after blowing an 8-0 lead and losing 14-9 Friday.
Or maybe they would have stated the obvious: “Baseball is cruel. Baseball is frustrating. Baseball is unpredictable.”
A day after suffering their most disappointing loss of the season, the Reds again took an 8-0 lead in the early innings. This time, they made it stand, beating the Blue Jays 11-1 Saturday in front of the 100th regular-season sellout crowd (43,530) in Great American Ball Park history.
“It speaks a lot to the character of the club,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “We didn’t talk about it as a team, but we did as a coaching staff. It was a character game. We needed to show up. We needed to get the taste of yesterday’s loss out of our mouth and move forward and get a win. It was a convincing win. It just showed the guys are really into it. One thing this club hasn’t done is get their head down and felt sorry for themselves.”
Ryan Ludwick drove in two runs with two outs in a three-run first. Jay Bruce hit a solo home run in the third.
Four players had RBIs in a four-run fourth. Devin Mesoraco hit a three-run home run in the seventh to close the scoring and has homered in three straight games.
The Reds have scored 20 runs in this series. They’ve already scored more runs in June (98 in 19 games) than they did in May (86 in 27).
“We have a lot of very capable hitters,” Mesoraco said. “If we go out there and just do what we’re capable of, the runs are going to show up. You can’t panic after a couple of 0-fers or a couple games getting shut out. You’ve just got to have faith in the guys we have in this locker room.”
Starter Mike Leake (5-6, 3.59 ERA) did exactly what Price asked. He allowed one run on only four hits. More important, he lasted eight innings, so the Reds bullpen earned a night of rest.
Only newcomer Carlos Contreras, called up from Double-A Pensacola, saw action. He pitched a perfect ninth in his major league debut.
The Reds (36-37) will try to reach .500 for the fourth time this season in the series finale at 1:10 p.m. today.